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An evolutionary compass for detecting signals of polygenic selection and mutational bias

By Lawrence Uricchio, Hugo C. Kitano, Alexander Gusev, Noah A. Zaitlen

Posted 08 Aug 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/173815 (published DOI: 10.1002/evl3.97)

Selection and mutation shape genetic variation underlying human traits, but the specific evolutionary mechanisms driving complex trait variation are largely unknown. We developed a statistical method that uses polarized GWAS summary statistics from a single population to detect signals of mutational bias and selection. We found evidence for non-neutral signals on variation underlying several traits (BMI, schizophrenia, Crohn's disease, educational attainment, and height). We then used simulations that incorporate simultaneous negative and positive selection to show that these signals are consistent with mutational bias and shifts in the fitness-phenotype relationship, but not stabilizing selection or mutational bias alone. We additionally replicate two of our top three signals (BMI and educational attainment) in an external cohort, and show that population stratification may have confounded GWAS summary statistics for height in the GIANT cohort. Our results provide a flexible and powerful framework for evolutionary analysis of complex phenotypes in humans and other species, and offer insights into the evolutionary mechanisms driving variation in human polygenic traits.

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